RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — Gov. Jerry Brown met Tuesday with local community leaders in Riverside following the release of his 2014-15 budget proposal last week.
The meeting is part of a multi-city campaign by Brown to gain support for the proposal, which would pay off more than $11 billion in debt while continuing to invest in public schools and expand health care coverage for millions of Californians, according to Brown’s office.
Brown met Monday with local education, water, agriculture, law enforcement and community leaders in Fresno and also met with officials in Bakersfield before heading to Riverside, officials said.
“With a decade of intractable deficits behind us, California is poised to take advantage of the recovering economy and the tens of thousands of jobs now being created each month,” Brown said in a statement. “But given the vagaries of the business cycle, we must be ever vigilant in the commitment of public funds. Wisdom and prudence should be the order of the day.”
Not everyone, however, agrees with Brown’s proposal, which includes a quarter of a billion dollars in cap-and-trade environmental fees, in order to fund the construction of the California bullet train.
Other critics charge that the currently-proposed $500 million budget for expanding county jails is simply not enough, as the jails are filled with state prisoners in an effort to reduce overcrowding in state prisons.
Another topic at the meeting was that of the effect of California’s public-safety realignment, which was designed with the intention of making counties responsible for the incarceration and post-release monitoring of non-violent criminals. As a result of the AB-109 measure that went into effect in 2011, offenders who were convicted of non-serious, non-violent, and non-registrable sex crimes are incarcerated in local jails, rather than in state prisons.
The original goal was to limit the terms for prisoners in county jails to no more than one year. However, Riverside County jails are reported to be currently housing 279 inmates serving sentences of three years or more, according to a news release from the Riverside County Executive office. Crowding in local jails have worsened, as a result, forcing early releases and leaving Riverside County jails still at maximum capacity for two years.
In another issue, Gov. Brown suggested that he intends to issue an official California Drought state of emergency any day, following one of the driest years in recent state memory.
“This matter is not something to be taken lightly,” Brown said. “But this piece of paper may take a little while, not very long. We will get it out, but after we get it out, we still have a lot that we have to do. This is a problem of how we use water, and there’s no quick answer. I mean, the bishops say ‘pray for rain’. Well, that may be as effective as my declaration.”
The possibility of moving water around the state from areas that have some to spare, such as Los Angeles, to areas that are in more dire need.